The following represents some of the different Alcoholics Anonymous meetings that are available:
Open Meetings: These meetings are open to anyone: to non-alcoholics, alcoholics, and to anyone interested in solving a personal drinking problem or helping someone else to solve such a problem.
Closed Meetings: These meetings are limited to alcoholics. They provide an opportunity for members to share with one another regarding drinking problems and patterns and about the difficulty to remain sober. Closed meetings also a provide a forum for detailed discussion of the different aspects in the recovery program.
Beginners Meetings: These meetings are typically targeted at newcomers, i.e., those individuals with less than one year of sobriety. A topic will be suggested by a chairperson and then members who want to, can share their personal hopes, fears, or experiences related to the topic. In this manner, beginners will start to understand the Alcoholics Anonymous program and how they can abstain from drinking, one day at a time.
Speaker Meetings: One or two members of AA will share their story-- what alcoholism was like, what happened to them while they drank, and what life is like now that they are sober. The speaker, typically chosen in advance, agrees to tell his story of drinking and recovery to the group. Speakers are usually members with a year or more of sobriety who have previously been asked to share their story. A common format at speaker meetings is to start the meeting with the usual opening readings and then to devote the rest of the meeting to the speaker's story. When the story is finished the meeting is closed without any formal discussion. Some meetings are combined "speaker-discussion meetings." In this type of meeting, the main speaker shares his or her story for 15 to 30 minutes, and then opens the meeting to a group discussion of the topics raised in accordance with the typical protocol of a discussion meeting. During speaker meetings, newcomers or beginners are encouraged not to compare, but to relate to each member's experiences.